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A scaled-down version of Xiotech Corp.’s Magnitude 3D SAN-based storage subsystem promises to provide scalability and ease of use for midtier organizations as well as divisions of larger companies.

The midmarket has largely been ignored by storage vendors, who tend to focus on lucrative enterprise-class customers or, more recently, the small-business marketplace. But the midsized organizations have their own set of requirements—namely more robust solutions than those developed for the smallest environments that are easy to use and manage and are available at reasonable prices.

Xiotech answers that call with Magnitude 3D 1000e, a smaller version of the Eden Prairie, Minn., company’s Magnitude 3D. The product has much of the same functionality as Magnitude 3D, including real-time provisioning and Zero-Server Footprint, in its traditional easy-to-manage format. The 1000e offers 56 maximum drives, modular N-way clustering, cross-cluster failover/failback, three storage tiers, policy- or application-driven control, and dimensional storage pooling.

The Magnitude 3D 1000e is focused on the needs of midsized companies—those between $100 million and $1 billion in annual revenue—because of its ease of use, clustering capability and tiered storage infrastructure, said Mike Stolz, executive vice president of marketing.

“It’s as easy to use as our full-fledged product, but the configuration is smaller,” he explained. “The difference is that if you want to put in a Clariion- or HP [Hewlett-Packard Co.]-based system, you would need an EMC- or HP-certified SAN administrator involved who is familiar with the technology. But in many cases, with this solution, a company’s jack-of-all-trades can do it.”

Ease of use really does make a difference, especially to smaller companies, said Natalya Yezhkova, a senior research analyst for storage systems at IDC, of Framingham, Mass. Solutions from EMC and HP, for example, are widely considered to be more difficult to use.

The system’s clustering capabilities also sets it apart from competitors like EMC Clariion CX, IBM’s 4000 series, and HP’s EVA and MSA products. Not only does it allow an organization to increase its storage environment without worrying about geographic and reliability limitations, but it is particularly appealing to organizations with multiple locations, Yezhkova noted.

“If you have a failure in one system, as long as the system was clustered with another, the other could take over the workload so you can repair the failed system while all of the data goes through another system,” she said. Yezhkova said competing products currently are not offered in a clustered configuration.

Another useful feature for the midmarket is the product’s three-tiered architecture—one more tier than many of its competitors have. The Magnitude 3D 1000e offers standard enterprise-class Fibre Channel-based drives; economy enterprise class, which offers all of the reliability and robustness of a standard Fibre Channel drive at a lower cost point; and Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives at 400g per drive.

“You can put some of your data in a Serial ATA environment, some in the economy environment and some in a full-blown enterprise Fibre Channel environment,” Stolz explained.

These advantages make Xiotech’s offering worth considering, Yezhkova said.

“Xiotech is more expensive than some of these other solutions, but it’s attractive if you need the ease-of-management, multitiering and clustering capabilities it offers,” she said.

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